I don’t understand why Milan gets a bad reputation. I’ve heard it being called industrial, dirty and uninteresting. A friend also once referred to it as “the Manchester of Italy”. If that’s the case, I’m looking forward to going up to Manchester because I had a fantastic weekend in Milan this month.
People usually go to Italy for good weather, history, food, and architecture. Milan ticks all those boxes along with being modern, prosperous, and a gateway to exploring northern Italian lakes.
With less than 48 hours in Italy’s fashion capital – half of which was spent exploring the said northern lakes – we tried to pack as much as we could in a day, fuelled by coffee and Campari, of course.
My former housemate and good friend Sonja is currently living very close to Milan. We leaned on her to guide us through some of the major neighbourhoods of the city, starting in Navigli. We had lunch at a neighbourhood favourite Taglio; it’s the kind of joint where you get everything from speciality coffee to carefully crafted brunch as well as a vast selection of wine. The menu changes often at this casual restaurant, bar and food shop (read: perfect excuse for multiple visits).
We made our way past Porta Ticinese and cut through one too many charming alleys to get to Duomo di Milano. The Gothic cathedral that took nearly six centuries to complete is the second largest in Italy. Prepare to line up for hours if you want to take a peek inside, and beware of the pigeons while posing in the square. Despite the madness of this square, the grand facade of this towering church demands you pay it a visit.
We walked through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, choosing to admire the stunning building over the shops it houses. This 19th-century glass-covered arcade is a beaut.
Nipping into a street behind Teatro Alla Scala, we walked up to Brera, another charming district in the historical core of the city. After a mandatory gelato stop (we’d been in Italy for more than 8 hours at this points and still hadn’t had a gelato – blasphemy!), we ended up in the modern Moscova part of town.
When in Milan, go to happy hour. Bars around the city set up a snacks buffet which you can help yourself to as long as you keep ordering cocktails. I received a huge list of recommended happy hour places before I left for my trip (including Yguana Cafe, Nottingham Forrest, Bar Basso), but what actually ended up happening is we floated from one bar to another in Navigli. And all of the ones we went to were amazing. I get the impression it’s difficult for a bar to mess up happy hour.
We then sat on the boardwalk along the Darsena and watched the sun go down, before going to UGO cocktail bar (pictured) for a nightcap.
On the Sunday, we took the train up to Lake Como. More about that in the next post, but if you find yourself near Milano Central, put aside 30 minutes to go have the best – and I mean the best – croissants and pastries are Pave. This busy cafe is an instagrammer’s dream serving a remarkable range of scrumptious treats. I’m not going to tell you how many I had (hint: more than one).
I’m sure we barely scratched the surface of what Milan has to offer, but were wowed by what we saw of this lively, historic and charming city.